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Elkins, the county seat of Randolph County, is located on the upper Tygart Valley River, where it flows to the northwest through a break between Rich and Laurel mountains. Elkins, elevation 1,930 feet, serves as a gateway to the Allegheny Mountains that lie to the east. Its population in 2020 was 6,950.

Elkins was founded in 1889, following the extension of the West Virginia Central & Pittsburg [sic] Railroad into Randolph County. Businessman Henry Gassaway Davis and his son-in-law, Stephen B. Elkins, purchased property near the village of Leadsville for the location of their headquarters and new railroad shops. Elkins served as a railroad center for more than 75 years with the movement of coal and lumber by the West Virginia Central & Pittsburg, the Coal & Coke, the Western Maryland, the Baltimore & Ohio, and later the Chessie System.

Elkins is a mecca for sports and outdoor enthusiasts who visit the streams and forests in the area. Offices of the Monongahela National Forest, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources are located at Elkins.

Davis & Elkins College, founded in Elkins in 1904, accommodates students from many states and foreign countries in a strong liberal arts program. The Augusta Heritage Center, with offices at the college, offers popular annual workshops in folk music and the traditional arts. The Mountain State Forest Festival has been held in Elkins since its inception in 1930. Elkins, a major lumber center, has various lumber mills, brokers, lumber equipment operations, and wood processing plants.

Elkins is a historic crossroads. U.S. 33, which connects to Interstate 79 at Weston, intersects U.S. 219-250 in Elkins. U.S. 219 connects Elkins to Parsons in the north and Marlinton in the south. From Elkins, via Huttonsville, U.S. 250 crosses the mountain ranges to the southeast through Pocahontas County and Monterey, Virginia. U.S. 33, now a modern four-lane highway west of Elkins, crosses five mountains on its way eastward from Elkins by way of Harman into Pendleton County.

Written by Donald L. Rice


  1. Holmes, Charles J. & Justin M. Kunkle, eds. Elkins, West Virginia, November Nineteen Six. Elkins: Board of Trade, 1906.

  2. Rice, Donald L. Elkins Centennial Album. Parsons: McClain, 1990.

  3. Rice, Donald L. Randolph 200: A Bicentennial History of Randolph County, West Virginia. Elkins: Randolph County Historical Society, 1987.